Be Vocal

by abhirama

Fresh out of college, in my first company GXS, after our training, me and another guy were put into a legacy maintenance project. It was atrociously boring. A couple of weeks into it, I told my colleague that I am going to talk to the manager regarding this.  It was a pretty bold step going by the fact that it was my first job, I was very new to the software industry. I talked to my immediate team lead who was in charge of the project regarding my decision and he was very supportive of it. I talked to my manager and and in a few weeks I was in a new team doing exciting work. That one move shaped my whole career, if I had just accepted the status quo and stayed put, I do not know whether I would be doing all the cool things I am doing today. What I am trying to convey is that, if you are not happy about something, talk to people. Usually, higher ups understand the problem and are ready to help you. But, when you do something like this, do it with decorum. Do not try to do things hideously. I first talked to my immediate team lead and only after appraising him of my decision, I talked to my manager.  I did not break the chain of command.

In any situation, being vocal about something has always helped me. For example, recently, when Pavi and me were in Thailand, we had booked our room in Phuket city while the happening night life was in Patong, which is an hour’s ride from the city. We try to use as much public transportation as possible in our sojourns, but our hotel manager informed us that we would not get a ride back from Patong to city in the night. The last bus was at around 7 in the evening. We would have to pay at least 600 to 700 Baht for a ride back. To give an idea, the bus ticket was 20 Baht. This was reaffirmed by the fare board put by Thai tourism in Patong beach, the same fare was listed to the city during night. Even, the Indian restaurant manager where we had our dinner confirmed this. After having shit loads of fun in Patong, it was time to go back. We tried a couple of tuk tuks and all were quoting the same price of 600 to 700 Baht but that did not stop us from trying and talking with the tuk tuk drivers for a lesser price. Finally, one tuk tuk guy agreed to take us back for 300 Baht and that driver became our friend too. On the next day too we took his tuk tuk back to city and tipped him generously on our last ride back.  If we had just accepted what others said and did not try to talk the price down, we would have been poorer by around 600 Baht in two days. Also, as a silver lining, we made a good friend and had a lovely conversation with the driver on our rides back.

I am not saying it always works, there are many instances in my life where being vocal did not bear any fruits. For example, in Zynga, I put very bluntly in my appraisal form that I was not very happy with the quality of work I was doing. I expected the HR to talk to me regarding this, but that did not happen. Even though, when I appraised them of my decision to move to FreeCharge, Zynga tried to talk me into moving to a team where I wanted to work, but it was too late by then, but still, being vocal did not achieve it’s goal here. But what the heck, I did not loose anything. I had the personal satisfaction of having tried my best, but somehow it did not work out. Now that I am responsible for FreeCharge, I encourage my team members to be vocal about their problems and talk to me in case of any issues however small it might look.

The bottom line is, if you see something is not right or you are not happy in a situation, talk to people, usually it works for the better, even if it does not, no pandas will be killed during the process :).

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